Tigers Have Physical Practice

Auburn took full advantage of a perfect weather day to have a hard-hitting full pad practice as the Tigers continue to prepare for Virginia Tech.

Auburn, Ala.—-With a group of six official visitors looking on, the Auburn Tigers had a physical two-hour practice in full pads as they continue to work towards the Jan. 3 Nokia Sugar Bowl where they'll face the Virginia Tech Hokies. Coach Tommy Tuberville said the practice was a good one for his team as it prepares for the final game of the season.

"It was a good day of practice," Tuberville said. "We had great weather and the guys were fired up. We had a couple of fights out here. We had some skirmishes and a lot of enthusiasm. These guys are having fun and that's the way it ought to be.

"We've been working a lot on individual techniques," he added. "And about 40 percent on Virginia Tech. When we come back on Monday we'll do a lot more Virginia Tech. We'll have everything in before we go to the bowl. In the kicking game we're not going to do a lot of that until we get to the bowl site, but we have worked on some of it. The gameplan, we've got it, but we haven't gotten it all in. One thing you don't want to do for a bowl game is make this boring for the players. Once they get bored they lose focus."

Ronnie Brown (blue No. 4) helps up Junior Rosegreen after the two hit the deck in Saturday's practice.

The Tigers will take Sunday off before returning back to practice on Monday. Tuberville said that the team closed out the first three days of practice on a high note with a solid practice complete with several shoving matches. One involved tight end Kyle Derozan and defensive end Marquies Gunn and Tuberville said the defensive player got the best of things on this day.

"Marquies Gunn won the match," Tuberville said jokingly. "It was a TKO. It was one of those where he wanted us to drag him off of him, but it was all in good humor."

Auburn has worked this week on finding ways to lessen the loss of playing without starting linebacker Antarrious Williams. Without him since the Alabama game, the Tigers will use a variety of players at the weak side including senior Derrick Graves and redshirt freshman Montavian Collier. Tuberville said Collier is going to get some action against the Hokies.

"Derrick is going to be fine," Tuberville said. "Montavian Collier is going to practice a lot. It's a good time for these guys to get some repetition and see what they can do. We're going to get him in the game (Collier) and find out what he can do."

Building on the momentum of an undefeated season, the Tigers currently boast 13 commitments and are hoping for more good news after this weekend with some of the South's top players on campus for official visits. Running back Antone Smith, defensive tackles Jerrell Powe and Dan Williams from East High in Memphis, Tenn., defensive back Jerraud Powers, offensive lineman Simon Codrington and wide receiver Richard Goodman all watched practice and got a chance to see the Tigers in action. Tuberville said this year's recruiting is going well and he hopes to finish strong.

"Recruiting is going great," Tuberville said. "It's never easy, but (this season) has made it more competitive. There are some players that we've been able to get our foot in the door on that we probably wouldn't have had that opportunity had we not done what we've done this year. That happens with everybody. There are some teams that didn't have as good a year this year that aren't going to have as good a year recruiting. It kind of goes hand in hand."

Friday night the recruits got a chance to see something special as the Tigers celebrated winning the SEC Championship by rolling Toomer's Corner with the fans. Several thousand Auburn fans along with the band and cheerleaders made some noise for Tuberville and the team. He said that the night was one that he won't ever forget.

"It was a special night," Tuberville said. "Sometimes you don't know how things are going to turn out like that, but the people in town are so excited about what this football team has done. It's just been fun to watch them. Last night was one of those celebrations where you forget about the BCS and you celebrate what has happened and what it's meant, not only to the players, but to the community."

Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden was on hand to watch Saturday's practice. One of the commentators for the Sugar Bowl for ABC, he took in the practice to help him with the broadcast of the game.

Auburn will resume practices on Monday with a scheduled noon start time. The Tigers will practice both Tuesday and Wednesday as well before breaking for Christmas. Practices will resume in New Orleans beginning Dec. 29.

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